Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Naked Ape” as Want to Read:
The Naked Ape
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Naked Ape

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  9,622 ratings  ·  598 reviews
This work has become a benchmark of popular anthropology and psychology.

Zoologist Desmond Morris considers humans as being simply another animal species in this classic book first published in 1967. Here is the Naked Ape at his most primal in love, at work, at war. Meet man as he really is: relative to the apes, stripped of his veneer as we see him courting, making love, s
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 13th 1999 by Delta (first published 1967)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Naked Ape, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Esculapio Poblete You have the same edition as mine, and you're right, it has just 172 pages. Enjoy, I've read it twice, it explains so many things about ourselves !! …moreYou have the same edition as mine, and you're right, it has just 172 pages. Enjoy, I've read it twice, it explains so many things about ourselves !! (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,622 ratings  ·  598 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Naked Ape
Aug 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Morris makes a great song and dance about the 'outrage' with which his book was first received. Why are people so resistant to contemplating, in the cool light of scientific 'objectivity', their 'animal nature', he asks. However, Morris' claim to neutrality is highly suspect; he urges us to learn from and accept the picture he presents of human beings, saying
homo sapiens has remained a naked ape... in acquiring lofty new motives, he has lost none of the earthy old ones. This is frequently a caus
Erik Graff
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: very old people
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
This was one of the most upsetting books I have ever read. Fifteen years of age, I approached Morris with a vague, general interest in animals, i.e. zoology. His book was popular and available in the Park Ridge public library where I read it.

Fifteen and never been kissed. Well, that is not quite true. In first grade I was kissed by Lisa. That happened in her garage up Butte Lane from our house in the Meadowdale development. It was, it is unforgettable. A willowy blonde, she wore a powder blue sm
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: smart-stuff
People are animals. Our behavior has evolutionary roots-- even many behaviors we define as cultural have their basis in our prehistoric dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-sexiest past.
There, that's the thesis-- perfectly sound and very interesting.
The book falls apart in the details though-- sweeping generalizations and odd assumptions about sexual behavior and gender roles and cultural supremacy without any supporting proof. Just ideas and theories that seem almost comically colored by the author's
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-sort-of
I spent a year in Marbury, a non-authoritarian school modelled on Summerhill. It was all too weird for words. Next time any of you wonder why I don't know what continent Spain is in, or why places that are further away have times that are closer or...keep in mind that my geography text book for the year was The Naked Ape.

Well, I say it was that sort of school like it's to blame for my appalling ignorance of geography. If only I'd chosen a normal school instead. But truth be told, the next year
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Naked Ape is my favourite book, ever. If The Naked Ape was a person I would marry it in a heartbeat under whatever terms it wished, and I would be more than happy to give my body over to producing as many of its children as I could because a book like this deserves to bear children more than most of us do.
Desmond Morris is an Anthropologist, and the person that made me decide that I, too, would like very much to be an Anthropologist, and The Naked Ape is a study of the Human Being as an ani
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book astonished people 40 years ago and inspired all that psuedo-scientific "men are hunters, women are gatherers" crap, or so I'm told.

It's aged badly. The author comes across as pretty full of himself -- he thinks his way of analyzing human behavior (from a zoological perspective) raises him above bias, but he's amusingly unaware of his own biases -- misogyny, homophobia, and anti-psychiatry, to name a few.

It's still got some interesting parts, I guess, but I could only make it about hal
Ronald Wise
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book again after 37 years, I was pleasantly surprised at the relevant impact this book still has. Perhaps reading it after nearly four decades of experience as a member of its target species, more points in it seemed to ring true. There are probably some aspects of this book which have been called into question by subsequent research findings, but in general the materials on the human evolutionary biology and psychology I've read in the meantime seem to support Morris's positions.

Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Desmond Morris' "The Naked Ape" is not a quality book for individuals seeking to understand the nature of modern evolutionary psychology. Morris' work is notable only for being a historical perspective into the origins of a discipline which has (since his book) taken on a dynamic and vibrant academic life. If one can manage to make it past some of the glaring errors in his work (at one point he suggests that women evolved a trait because it was evolutionarily better for men - 'Uh, Desmond? Evolu ...more
Tanja Berg
When I stumbled across this book last week and promptly down-loaded it to my kindle, I did not realize it had been first published in 1967. Some of the views are decidedly antiquated. For example that men go to work in attempt to satisfy the hunting urge together with other men, while women stay at home and take care of the children. In most of the Scandinavian countries, as large a percentage of women as men are now an active part of the work force. The superficial treatment of homosexuality an ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
If you like your science with a heaping dose of sexism and homophobia, then this book's for you!

This book was so entirely awful that I thought less of the person who recommended it to me.

Nandakishore Mridula
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of those iconic books which once read, are never forgotten. I think many of Morris's observations based solely on anthropology have been debunked by scientists in related fields - but after reading this book, I can see mankind only as monkeys without fur! ...more
Ahmad Hossam
Mar 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
I believe it would be an insult to science if I shelved this book as scientific. Simply put, it is unscientific bullshit that reads like 19th century imperialist anthropology.

Not a shred of evidence is there, except vague references to "research shows", the "fossil record proves". What these evidence are you will never now, he may as well have made them up.

Two major issues here: Mr. Morris seems to lack the basic understanding of evolution. Physical traits are not inherited; the change has to ta
Natnael M
May 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape.”

Here we are, humans (naked and bipedal) from a zoological perspective, about our origins, sexual behavior, exploration, fighting, feeding, rearing and how we relate with other animals. One thing guaranteed would be, bunch of staff to discuss with a friend once you both read this book.

Well other than his "the men away hunting, the women at home gathering" classification, I think we can make a room to enjoy this book. At least we
Isa Lavinia
Jul 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Very problematic in its views of isolated societies:

The simple tribal groups that are living today are not primitive, they are stultified... the naked ape is essentially an exploratory species and any society that has failed to advance has in some sense failed.

It's just such an utter failure to admire the complexities of all human societies and, as a scientist, a failure for letting his biases influence his research.
Every human society is valid, worthy, and advanced. It's not because the Sentin
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't know what sort of re-packaged edition I read originally, but it was a short, coffee-table sized hardback, with full-sized, four-colour photos of women's pupils dilating. It seems men automatically find the same photo of a woman, but with larger pupils, more attractive. I thought I'd discovered a secret key to measuring womankind, in a kind of Cosmo version of The Naked Ape. A friend in school saw my book and got very excited, but the secret knowledge within, well, that was only for me.

Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fact
I think the concept of this approach to humans as an animal like any other is a brilliant one. We are prone to thinking of ourselves as a species apart, when we're not, and even if we were, we could do with putting back in our places sometimes -- being human doesn't mean we're more worthy than any other creature, all of which have their own adaptations to deal with the environment they find themselves in. We're particularly versatile, yes, but because we evolved that way, not because of some spe ...more
Sep 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I would have given "The Naked Ape" a 4-star rating based on its handling of human evolution and animal behavior, unfortunately 1960's style moralizing creeped in and caused me to lower my rating to a 3. The boomer generation was really annoying in how they viewed themselves as saviors to the planet when they were really just as selfish and materialistic as their parents (and less moral and responsible). Even with those reservations, the descriptions of human and animal behavior and human evoluti ...more
Nov 02, 2007 rated it liked it
One doesn't pick up this sort of book looking to 'get off' but let me tell you (!) the opening chapters on sexuality are very arousing. I had to stop reading and satisfy my er, appetite several times before moving on to the next chapters. If only to stimulate yourself without anyone catching on--or while posing as erudite or whatever-- this book is terrific.

Otherwise, sure he makes many interesting points about the biological basis for certain of our human tendencies--and I appreciate his attemp
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
The Naked Ape made quite a stir when it was published in 1967 but relatively little of the stir was outrage. Oh, sure, some groups declared the arrival of the Apocalypse but those tended to be people who believed that no good comes of change. Ever.

Today the outrage comes from the quarter where people believe that all books of the past should be revised to reflect today's mores. Or, more expeditiously, those books should simply be disposed of or perhaps ignored except when a target ripe for beli
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: anthropology, biology
Read this when I was 15. At the time it impressed me very much by its broad scope. Since then, I've learned Morris is despised by scientists. I can imagine why, but I really can't Judge. ...more
Sajith Kumar
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ revolutionized the genre of popular science in a big way. Even though many people did not understand what was discussed in it, Time became a best seller as Hawking turned out to be a living icon of human intelligence at its best. An invalid on account of the rare motor neuron disease with which he was afflicted, the eminent scientist communicated through artificial means but carried out advanced research programs through sheer intellect and a good meas ...more
Jay Wright
This is a thought provoking book, but mainly filled with theory. Morris' most important contribution is to get you to think of the human race as an animal. The purpose seems to be that and to talk about over-population and its effects on the environment. The year is 1967 and although better developed, evolution is still a theory. Morris does not hide that much of what is discussed in this book is theory. Theory does not mean it is wrong, only that it has yet to be proven and may never be. He may ...more
Jul 02, 2021 rated it did not like it
He's just making it up as he goes. ...more
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to remember a time when the aquatic ape hypothesis was taken seriously
Shelves: biology, anthropology
I suppose all reviews of this book must open up with the fact that it is dated - considerably. Many of the speculations and theories put forward in the text have since fallen out of favor or been outright dismissed. But as with all science books from an older era, this is not the important part! The questions and insights raised about human nature far outweigh any omissions due to the inadequate science of the times.

What one can find fault with is several arguments and generalizations made about
Derek Bridge
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The conceit of this book is to cast a zoologist's eye over the human species, reporting its behaviour as we would any other species. It can be disconcerting in places, but always interesting. The argument is that humans reveal today, irrespective of layers of reason and culture, our inherent natures as a fruit-eating, forest-dwelling social ape turned carnivorous hunter on the savanna.

On the other hand, it's not clear how much of this populist treatment is rooted in real science. All too often,
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in the 60s, you'll probably like this. If you didn't, then you might be mildly insulted. ...more
Mostaque Ahammed
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
We are very young species. We call us modern and inside us we are carrying 100 or thousand years of primitive habits with us. We've created nuclear bombs, but we can't prevent ourselves from close our eyes when a fly across our eyes. We have tremendous power and but we don't know how to use that, where to use that. We are sheep with a lion's claw. Lion knows very well the use of his dangerous claws, but sheep doesn't. He just got it overnight.

As a naked app, the nature is our very essential asse
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Studying the nature of the human race as an anthropologist would study a group of apes is as informative as it is hysterical. And the added bonus of being written with overtones of an impending Cold War made the book even more enjoyable.
Benjamin Rubenstein
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback
Like "Sapiens" and "Ishmael," this book has the potential to alter your paradigm. It's written by a zoologist who isn't bashful about using his expertise to share his perspective. Which is that humans are animals. I think most people get that conceptually, but say it aloud over and over again--humans are animals--and then maybe it'll click that we're like monkeys, lions, ants, black bears, whatever. That concept clicked soon after picking up this book, and once it did I thought of our species di ...more
Judyta Szaciłło
This is a fascinating read on many levels. The main topic alone - a picture of human mammals from a zoologist's point of view - is a brilliant brain excercise, and an eye-opener too. As the book was first published in the 1960s, it is also very interesting to observe how science progressed since then. Last but not least, this book provides good evidence that science - despite its ambition of objectivity - is subject to trends and fashions of its time.

This is not to say that the book is totally
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History
  • King Solomon's Ring
  • The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates
  • The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
  • Un minuto d'arte. 60 capolavori per riscoprire il piacere dell'arte senza filtri, senza soggezione, e con uno sguardo libero. Il tuo.
  • Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture
  • Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature
  • Il mio lungo viaggio. 90 anni di storie vissute
  • Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins
  • De neuronas, emociones y motivaciones
  • La cadera de Eva
  • The Third Eye
  • Fattore 1%: Piccole abitudini per grandi risultati
  • The Morning of the Magicians
  • Red mirror. Il nostro futuro si scrive in Cina
  • Plant Tribe: Living Happily Ever After with Plants
  • Making Up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World
  • Gotico americano
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Desmond John Morris (born 24 January 1928) is an English zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programmes such as Zoo Time.

News & Interviews

  Every year in the U.S., we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15. And this is the perfect...
63 likes · 12 comments
“I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape.” 44 likes
“Frequently we imagine that we are behaving in a particular way because such behaviour accords with some abstract, lofty code of moral principles, when in reality all we are doing is obeying a deeply ingrained and long ‘forgotten’ set of purely imitative impressions.” 4 likes
More quotes…